What causes someone to become overweight or obese?
Risks and causes
You can simply become overweight or obese when you eat more calories than you use. A
calorie is a unit of energy in the food you eat. Your body needs this energy to function and to be
active. But if you take in more energy than your body uses, you will gain weight. Many factors
can play a role in becoming overweight or obese. These factors include:
1- Psychological factors: Psychological factors may also influence eating habits. Many
people eat in response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness, or anger.
Behaviors, such as eating too many calories or not getting enough physical activity may
also contribute to obesity.
2- Environment and culture: This includes lifestyle behaviors such as what a person eats
and his or her level of physical activity. For example, Americans tend to eat high-fat
foods, and put taste and convenience ahead of nutrition. In addition, most Americans do
not get enough physical activity. Some cultural reasons for this include:
i) Bigger portion sizes
ii) Little time to exercise or cook healthy meals
iii) Using cars to get places instead of walking
3- Genes: Obesity tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic cause. Yet families also
share diet and lifestyle habits that may contribute to obesity. Separating these from
genetic factors is often difficult. Even so, science shows that heredity is linked to obesity.
Complications of obesity (what obesity can lead to?)
Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of:
• Heart disease
• Type 2 diabetes
• High blood pressure
• Breathing problems
• Gallbladder disease
• Some kinds of cancer
• Problems getting pregnant
But excess body weight isn’t the only health risk. The places where you store your body fat also
affect your health.
“Pears” vs. “Apples”
Doctors, dieticians and nutritionists are concerned not only with how much fat a person has, but
also where the fat is located on the body. Women typically collect fat in their hips and buttocks,
giving them a “pear” shape. Women with an “apple” shape store fat around their waists. If your
waist is more than 35 inches, you may have a higher risk of weight-related health problems.
Men usually build up fat around their bellies, giving them more of an “apple” shape. Of course
some men are pear-shaped and some women become apple-shaped, especially after
menopause. If you carry fat mainly around your waist, you are more likely to develop obesity-
related health problems. Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches or men with
a waist measurement of more than 40 inches have a higher health risk because of their fat
All in all, there is no single factor or cause that is considered solely responsible for the
development of obesity. The good news, however, is that while obesity is still considered
incurable on permanent basis, it is fully and completely controllable condition.